Master the Art of Spatchcocking a Turkey on Your Pellet Grill: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you ready to take your Thanksgiving game to the next level? Spatchcocking a turkey on a pellet grill is a surefire way to achieve juicy, evenly cooked meat with crispy, flavorful skin. This technique might sound intimidating, but trust me, it’s easier than it seems. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll demystify the process, giving you the confidence to become a spatchcocking pro.

What is Spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying, is the process of removing the backbone from a whole bird, like a turkey or chicken, and flattening it out. This method offers several advantages:

  • Even Cooking: By flattening the bird, the breasts and thighs cook at a more consistent rate, preventing the dreaded dry breast and undercooked thighs scenario.
  • Shorter Cooking Time: Without the backbone, the turkey cooks faster, saving you valuable time on Thanksgiving day.
  • Crispy Skin: With more surface area exposed, you’ll achieve a crispier, more flavorful skin.

Why Use a Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills, like Traeger and other brands, offer several benefits when spatchcocking a turkey:

  • Consistent Temperature: Pellet grills maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process, ensuring even cooking.
  • Smoky Flavor: The ability to infuse your turkey with delicious smoky flavors from the wood pellets.
  • Versatility: Pellet grills can be used for smoking, grilling, baking, and more, making them a true outdoor cooking powerhouse.

Step-by-Step Guide to Spatchcocking a Turkey on a Pellet Grill


  • 1 whole turkey (12-16 lbs)
  • Olive oil or melted butter
  • Your favorite dry rub or seasoning blend


  • Pellet grill
  • Sharp kitchen shears or poultry shears
  • Cutting board or sturdy surface
  • Aluminum foil (optional)


  1. Prepare the Turkey:

    • Remove the turkey from its packaging and pat it dry with paper towels.
    • Place the turkey breast-side down on a sturdy cutting board or surface.
  2. Remove the Backbone:

    • Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, starting from the tail end and working your way up towards the neck.
    • Once the backbone is detached, remove and reserve it for making stock or gravy.
  3. Flatten the Turkey:

    • Flip the turkey over, so the breast side is facing up.
    • Using your hands, press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten the turkey.
    • You can also use the heel of your hand or a heavy skillet to help flatten it further.
  4. Season the Turkey:

    • Brush the entire turkey with olive oil or melted butter, ensuring even coverage.
    • Generously season the turkey with your favorite dry rub or seasoning blend, making sure to cover both sides.
  5. Prepare the Pellet Grill:

    • Preheat your pellet grill to 225°F (107°C) for smoking, or 350°F (177°C) for a quicker roasting method.
    • If smoking, add wood pellets like apple, cherry, or hickory for extra flavor.
  6. Cook the Turkey:

    • Place the spatchcocked turkey directly on the grill grates, breast-side up.
    • Cook at 225°F (107°C) for approximately 30 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
    • If roasting at 350°F (177°C), cook for approximately 15-20 minutes per pound.
    • Optionally, you can tent the turkey with aluminum foil if the skin starts to brown too quickly.
  7. Let it Rest:

    • Once the turkey reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving and serving.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • Brine or Dry Brine: Consider brining or dry brining your turkey for extra moisture and flavor. This step is optional but highly recommended.
  • Use a Thermometer: Invest in a reliable meat thermometer to ensure accurate temperature readings.
  • Adjust Cooking Time: The cooking time can vary depending on the size of your turkey and the temperature of your pellet grill. Always use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.
  • Rotate the Turkey: For even cooking, rotate the turkey halfway through the cooking process.
  • Catch the Drippings: Place a disposable aluminum pan under the turkey to catch the drippings for making gravy.

How Long to Cook Spatchcock Turkey at 225°F

If you’re smoking your spatchcocked turkey at 225°F (107°C), plan for approximately 30 minutes per pound. Here’s a rough estimate based on turkey weight:

  • 12-pound turkey: 6 hours
  • 14-pound turkey: 7 hours
  • 16-pound turkey: 8 hours

Remember, these are just estimates. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.


Spatchcocking a turkey on a pellet grill is a game-changer for your Thanksgiving feast. With evenly cooked, juicy meat, crispy skin, and a hint of smoky flavor, this method is sure to impress your guests. Follow our step-by-step guide, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a spatchcocking pro. Happy grilling!

How to Smoke a Spatchcock Turkey on a Pellet Grill | Heath Riles BBQ

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